Fair Use

The fair use concept embedded in US copyright law maintains that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder. If you have a specific question that is not answered on this website please complete and submit our Copyright Request Help form.

Four Factors*

Four factors must be considered when determining if your purpose is fair use: (1) Purpose and Character of the Work, (2) Nature of the Work, (3) Amount Used, and (4) Effect on the Market.

Factor 1: Purpose and Character of the Work

Favors Fair Use

  • Nonprofit institution
  • Education and teaching
  • Research or scholarship
  • Criticism or comment
  • News reporting
  • Transformative or productive use
  • Personal use
  • Parody

Opposes Fair Use

  • For-profit institution
  • Commercial
  • Entertainment
  • Bad faith behavior is involved
  • Denying credit to the original author

Factor 2: Nature of the Work

Favors Fair Use

  • Published
  • Factual
  • Non-fiction
  • Use important to instructional objectives

Opposes Fair Use

  • Unpublished
  • Highly creative
  • Fiction
  • Art, music, plays, novels, films

Factor 3: Amount and Substantiality of the Amount Used in Relation to the Whole

Favors Fair Use

  • Small amount used
  • Amount used is not central to the work
  • Amount used is not the "heart" of the work
  • Amount used is appropriate for the instructional objectives

Opposes Fair Use

  • Entire work is used
  • Large amount of the work is used
  • Amount used is central to the work
  • Amount used is the "heart" of the work
  • Amount used exceeds what is needed for instructional objectives

Factor 4: Effect of the Use on the Market

Favors Fair Use

  • User owns a lawfully acquired or purchased copy of the work
  • One or a few copies are made
  • Use has no significant effect on the market or potential market of the work
  • There is no similar product

Opposes Fair Use

  • Use could replace the sale of the work
  • Many copies are made
  • Use impairs the market or potential market for the work
  • There is a licensing mechanism or affordable permission available for the work

*Copyright Clearance Center. (2008). Fair use checklist. The Center.